By Betsy Ramser Jaime
For many years, struggle and hardship was just a way of life for George Kiio. As a child, he knew what it was like to be forced to quit school when he couldn’t pay the school fees. However, that was not enough to hold George back. He then started work as a herdsman and worked for a year to raise the money he needed to go to school.
After finishing high school he earned the money to pay his college tuition by selling roasted and fried peanuts cooked in the school hostel. He comments that, ‘I was lucky enough to get supply contracts in some nearby supermarkets such as Uchumi, Kenya and other local supermarkets.’
Once he finished his university studies, he was ready to open a new business and career. He decided to invest in a long-term retail shop in the local area which operates 24 hours a day. He has even been able to employ two people to work in the shop. In addition to operating his shop, he is also happy with his job working in a cybersecurity company.
Utilizing his business skills from his previous venture, George was ready to add more items to his stock including: selling wholesale maize, beans, peas, green grams, lentils, wheat, and maize flour. He mentioned that, ‘I have realized in my local area that there is a market gap and hence the demand.’
With the need for new stock also came the need for a financial investment. Fortunately, George discovered Zidisha and was able to secure his first Zidisha funded loan of $5 in December of 2016. This loan was used to purchase a variety of fruits and vegetables including: bananas both raw and ripe, green maize, vegetables such as cabbages, sukumawikis and kienyeji, bulb onions and other kinds of vegetables.
Two months later, George returned to his roots of selling peanuts by adding peanuts to his current shop offerings. By roasting and deep frying the peanuts himself, he would sell the peanuts at both wholesale and retail. For this he obtained a second Zidisha loan in February 2017 for $7. To convey the impact of this small loan George says, ‘A kilogram of peanuts cost Ksh.140 and has a return of at least Ksh.500. which can cater for my rent as I use my salary to pay school fees to my young siblings.’
Going forward, George was ready to think long-term. He determined that by producing his own vegetables and products this would cut down on food costs for both his family and customers as he could offer his products for a smaller markup if he was producing the food himself. Therefore, he requested his next Zidisha funded loan of $81 in April of 2017. With this loan, he bought all types of seeds that he could plant. He also put this loan towards renting the land, labor costs for planting, and bush fencing to keep out animals. Overall, he knew that this loan would allow him to cut down on his cost of living and become less dependent on market food.
On May 17, 2017, George shared this incredible update on his discussion page, ‘Thank you Zidisha for supplementing my initial capital in all my businesses. May God bless you all. Last but not least, thank you my lenders and may God increase your capital to fund more loans. You have golden hearts. I wish you existed the time I schooled. I would have not gone through such tough challenges.’
For George’s most recent loan, he requested $229 in June 2017. He planned to use this loan to buy 50 kg of raw peanuts for roasting. He predicted that this would generate a profit of at least $70 USD which he could use to reinvest into his business and to put towards his home and shop rent. He also intends to buy a meko (cooking gas) and a larger sufuria (cooking pot) for roasting his peanuts. Finally, he will continue to buy new vegetables and food inventory until he is able to sell the products that he is growing himself.
George is always excited and optimistic about the future and would like lenders to know that, ‘I will use my profit to educate my young girl, who will be joining baby school in August, and support my parents. If all goes well, then I will be able to purchase commercial land where I can build my own shop. # i love my lenders’
Wanting to share how truly grateful he is to both his lenders and the Zidisha community George shares, ‘Thank you my lenders for taking time to lend me your money. It may seem small to you but to me is too much. I never imagined will ever get a platform like this one. Thanks Zidisha too. Where in the World would I have gotten a loan from a stranger? It’s quite motivating. Payment of the loan is not an option but mandatory and actually on-time. I love you all.
Overall, George is so impressed with how his life has changed since he was first introduced to Zidisha. He is now able to produce larger quantities and to upgrade the quality of his products. In addition, he is excited to share that he has even been able to save up for a smartphone. Now he is able to take and upload his own photos rather than always using a cyber cafe. In his own words, ‘Zidisha is improving my life very much.’
Would you like to help improve the life of an entrepreneur like George. If so, make sure to check out our Lend page to read updates and stories of other incredible business owners.